The American Packrafting Association formed in November 2012 and our first year has been fantastic! We now have 600 members in 30 countries and we are growing steadily. Over the past year we worked effectively on access issues in three national parks, we provided testimony to Congress on key access issues and we held a successful international outreach program in India, and we had lots of great press. And we did all this with no staff and no budget. Not bad for a rag-tag bunch that prioritizes play over work!
One of the main issues that drove the formation of APA was the desire to overturn the decades-old paddling ban in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. We have been hard at work on this front, and our efforts are starting to pay off.
In November, legislation was introduced in the U.S. Congress by Wyoming Representative Cynthia Lummis to lift the paddling ban. This bill, titled "River Paddling Protection Act," would allow the National Park Service to consider paddling sports on the rivers of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The bill had its first committee hearing on November 21, 2013 and APA worked with Aaron Pruzan, a long-time paddling advocate and businessman, to provide compelling testimony.
This developing story has been widely-covered in the western press, and we are pleased with the exposure for the issue and APA. Some of the news stories on this issue can be found here:
There is opposition to paddling in the parks from some who fear that boaters will disturb the wilderness character of these rivers, disrupt wildlife, tax the budget and staffing of the parks and create dangerous chaos. Yellowstone already receives 4 million visitors each year and there are legitimate concerns that the park cannot stand more use.
Our vision for paddling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks is modest and in line with our strong conservation values. We do not advocate for paddling in all places or at all times. There are sensitive locations in these parks that should remain closed to all human activities, including paddling. There are plenty of places, though, where paddling could occur with no adverse effects on water, fish, wildlife or other visitors.
If you would like to help, send a letter or email to your congressional representative asking them to support H.R. 3492, the River Paddling Protection Act.
SUBMIT NOMINATIONS NOW FOR THE 2013 GOLDEN PADDLE AWARD
The Golden Paddle Award had humble beginnings when first presented to Roman Dial on his 50th birthday in 2010. Now in its fourth year, the award is intended to honor an individual who has made significant contributions to advance packrafting. Prior recipients also include Luc Mehl (2011) and Zorba Laloo (2012). APA is now accepting nominations for the 2013 award, which can be submitted by sending us an email at email@example.com by December 31, 2013. The winner will be announced in February 2014.
INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH IS A MEGHA-SUCCESS!
APA hosted its first-ever international outreach program to promote packrafting in India. 2012 Golden Paddle Award winner Zorba Laloo hosted Luc Mehl and Brad Meiklejohn in the Northeast tribal state of Meghalaya where the team found dozens of rivers in deep tropical canyons. APA hosted a 3-day swiftwater safety class to train local guides and a public event that put over 120 people in packrafts in one day.
Packrafts make people smile all over the world, and in India people went nuts for these colorful and fun boats. In all, the program was a huge success that we are looking to repeat in other corners of the world. If you have ideas about where our next outreach stop should be, drop us a line.
APA is hosting the first annual Packraft Rouundup from June 19-22nd, 2014 in Wyoming. This event will be an opportunity to get more involved with APA, check out packrafting gear, swap lies, drink beverages and explore some classic packrafting with classic packrafters.
Stay tuned for more details about the 2014 Packraft Roundup.
APA WANTS YOU!
APA is looking for new members of the Executive Council. The Executive Council is an advisory body to the Board of Directors and helps us identify and advance issues of importance to packrafters. If you are interested in being more involved with APA please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with a brief description of your background and areas of expertise. We are particularly eager to get folks with legal and political experience to help with our access projects. APA is a lean and efficient organization that can travel light, fast and far on a dollar.
We do need some money and welcome your support. APA is organized and recognized as a 501(c)(3) association, and donations to APA are deductible to the extent allowed by law.
You can donate through PayPal at the APA website (www.packraft.org) or by mailing a check to:
American Packrafting Association
3948 Hawthorne Lane
Wilson, WY 83014
APA has logo stickers that look great on your helmet, paddle, truck and coffee mug. If you would like to get two of these stickers and support APA, put a $1 bill in a self-addressed stamped envelope and mail it to the address above.